Thursday, June 10, 2010

Where is your safety?

So you have seen where your safety release is, that red plastic thing that is hanging off your bar, but do you know how to use it?  I mean really know, in a "help I'm drowning" type situation?  Do you push away or pull towards you, is it a quick release system, or a slow depower?
Trust me, when you need to use it, you won't have time to think about where it is or how to work it.
I always suggest pulling your safety several times before you need it - even on the beach with your lines in front of you so you have the muscle memory of where it is and which way to maneuver it.
This is especially true if you get a new kite or ride several kites of different manufacturers.
I write this because I had to pull my safety recently, and I am so glad that I had practiced this release before, so when I needed it in an emergency I could pull it and immediately be out of danger.
It was a windy day, with storms predicted when I hit the beach.  I got there to see the big guys riding around on their 9m kites, but the wind seemed to be dying at around 15 knots so I pumped up my 11m Ozone C4.  I like being overpowered, so I thought I would take the risk and fly a bigger kite so I could pop a few tricks, rather than just cruise on an underpowered kite.
Once I got out on the water, I saw a few flashes of sheet lightning, really I should have got off the water at this stage, but I was so keen to kite that I hoped it would pass.
Out of nowhere came this huge hail storm and the wind just whipped up from 15 to over 35 knots in a second!  I tried to hold my kite down in the window, but couldn’t keep it there, and I felt myself losing control.  I tried to dig my feet into the mud, but I wasn’t strong enough or heavy enough to hold my kite down, and I was being dragged inshore. 
I looked to my left and saw a guy get lofted then dropped on some rocks, lofted again then put in a tree.  I made a split second decision to pull my safety and the drama was over.  My kite depowered instantly and I was able to walk back in to shore and assess the situation.  I felt in control and safe because I knew where my safety was and how to use it.  The procedure was textbook and I was happy to be safe with an undamaged kite.
So if you haven’t checked your safety in a while, just give it a quick go, check there is no sand in there or it hasn’t rusted over.
Trust me, when you need it – you will be glad you did J

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